The aim of this study was to analyze maternal mortality in Brazil in the last 30 years, by means of a literature review. The authors performed an electronic search of scientific articles from 1980 to 2010 in LILACS and MEDLINE and found 486 abstracts, of which 50 articles were selected. Studies showed a decrease in the maternal mortality ratio (MMR), although varying across regions of the country. A few articles evaluated maternal mortality factors, identifying social inequalities associated with skin color and schooling. There was persistent underreporting of maternal deaths and inadequate completion of death certificates. Direct obstetric causes were the most frequent, mainly hypertensive diseases of pregnancy. Analysis of avoidability revealed deficiencies in prenatal and childbirth care. Despite the relevance of maternal mortality in Brazil, there are few studies on the subject. Although MMR has decreased, it is still above the desired levels. Improvements are thus needed in the quality of prenatal and perinatal care.
Maternal Mortality; Mortality Rate; Review